Archive for February, 2017

Emergency Car Kits

You never know when you will need an emergency car kit to help you when you are stranded somewhere. In most situations there are other vehicles traveling the road or there are homes near by. But what do you do if you are traveling in the country late at night? Maybe your traveling in one of the western states with few homes, towns or places you can go for help. On some highways it can be over 100 miles to the next place with services. Having an emergency car kit in your car can make life much easier for you while waiting for help!

An emergency car kit Should Include

  • Food that won’t spoil such as granola bars (avoid provisions that may be difficult to open such as canned food)
  • Water—use plastic bottles that won’t break if the water freezes and make sure to replace them every six months
  • Blankets
  • Extra clothing and boots
  • First aid kit, including a seatbelt cutter(glove compartment)
  • Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
  • Candle inside a deep can and matches
  • Wind-up flashlight
  • Whistle—in case you need to attract attention
  • Roadmaps
  • Sand, salt or cat litter (non-clumping) to help you out of a snow bank
  • Antifreeze and windshield washer fluid
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Warning lights or road flares
  • And of course, your cellular phone to call for emergency or towing services

Don’t get stranded on the road without these essentials. You never know how long you may need to wait for help especially during winter storms.


Treated Deck Lumber Rotting

treated deck lumber rottingLets be realistic, most treated deck lumber rotting issues will occur to just about everyone sometime. Treated lumber contrary to the advertisements will not last forever even under the best conditions. However, the life of your deck or your fence can be extended if you follow some guidelines. Basically you need to keep the water from collecting and standing on the wood. If you can arrange to make sure that there is good drainage and avoid damp earth collecting on the wood, it will last a long time. let’s review a few examples to give you some idea. If you follow the basic rule, your deck etc will last many years.

Treated Deck Lumber Rotting – Guidelines

Since this post is about decks, we will discuss decks first. Always follow basic construction and design guidelines to ensure that you have a deck that is well supported. You want it to be strong enough to hold all possible weight conditions. Next ensure that the deck slopes slightly away from the house. All water and moisture will run off allowing the wood to dry properly after each rainfall.

Ensure that the bottom of all posts are above grade and that there is adequate drainage from around the bottom of the post. Any dampness that remains, will over time, cause the wood to soften and begin rotting. If your deck receives lots of shade, it may not last as long as on that is in full sun. It just will not dry out. Either relocate the deck or remove some of the trees to provide more sunlight.

Fence posts should follow the same rule. Either encase the fence post in concrete and cap above grade or encase in porous gravel to bleed away moisture. If the moisture sits there, it will cause the wood to rot after even a short amount of time. It will not matter if it is cedar or treated lumber.


Practical issues – solar panels on your house

solar panels on your houseMore and more consumers are installing solar panels systems on the roof of their homes. They have bought into the idea of generating electricity to  reduce their costs. They consume less electricity and reduce pollution. Solar panels on your house can be an excellent way of saving money.

There are some practical issues associated with this trend that many sales people and solar panel companies will not talk about. We happen to think it is important for the consumer to know these things. This info should be reviewed prior to making a decision about installing solar panels on your house.

Depending on the state and the subsidies, the amount of sun you get and the cost of electricity from the grid the payback for your investment could be as short as five years. You actually might save thousands of dollars in electricity cost over the lifetime of the solar panel power system which could last 25 years.

Sounds pretty good! But there are some issues the consumer should be aware of.

Solar Panels on Your House – Issues

While all of these incentives are available from government agencies, it may take some time to actually collect. If you are depending on this money for cash flow you might need to think again. The incentives will eventually arrive however just not in the time frame you were expecting.

Some systems require that you read the meter and send that information in once a month. Others, will complete automatic readings for you at an increased cost. It really depends on whether you want to have the responsibility of meter reading once a month.

Most people assume that if the electrical grid goes down, they will continue to have power because they are generating power locally. Unfortunately if the grid goes down, and you are connected to the grid your power system will automatically shut down at the same time. This is to prevent electrical power being fed into the system while workers are trying to make repairs.

Finally if you live in an area that gets lots of snow, you may need to clear snow from the solar panels before you can generate power in the winter time. This is something that many consumers just do not consider as part of the decision to install solar panels on the roof. If Snow is covering the solar panels they will be unable to generate any electricity.


Treated Lumber Rotting

Treated Lumber RottingWe recently read a post about treated lumber rotting. The writer was surprised that the treated lumber on their deck had begun to rot. They had been assured that the lumber would not rot and would last a lifetime.

The bottom line is that all wood will eventually rot. Some will rot faster than others. It really depends on the type of wood used, the treating process and the location where the wood is placed. Treated lumber rotting is a common problem. Anytime you have moisture from poor drainage it will rot. If there is poor air circulation with moisture, it will rot. If there are insects such as termites, they will attack.

Treated Lumber Rotting

I have pulled out fence posts encased in concrete that are as good as the day they were installed after 29 years. On some posts where the concrete was below ground, the posts had begun to rot at ground level. They were exposed to dirt, moisture, poor air circulation and insects.

Deck components lasted equally well except for those pieces that were exposed to constant moisture. We had to replace the deck after 27 years. Either way this is not a bad life cycle for treated lumber.\

Bottom line, don’t expect treated lumber to last a life time and you will not be disappointed. Expected it to last 15 to 30 years under good conditions. Check the condition on a regular basis, especially as the deck, fence etc. gets older. You will avoid surprises this way.

Also, don’t you think it is time to update your deck design, fence etc after 20 to 30 years!


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